While Gray House is a clock in it's formation, it's also a kaleidoscope. Standing at the center of the courtyard, given a certain light, could show you the lazy shifting of realities, movie sets, mythological fables, and ideologies through which you might be able to see your own story. Standing here, and arranging the house into a chain of configurations, is something we all do to make any kind of sense of ourselves, colored heavily by our own hearts, minds, and perceptions.
"How does it feel?" is the question we ask almost as much as "What do you mean?" Because how else can we know? We are living in a pile of bricks, on the knife's edge of all other possibilities. How do we know we're even in the same house?
The house is a collection of houses of memory, and impression. The Victorian manor Adam entertains as the Frankenstein house, the haunted house at the end of every neighborhood, the house on Neiboldt Street, your grandmother's house, or her mother's, the notion of the great plantation homes of the voodoo South, the dilapidated abandoned ruin of that idea, post-war and evaporating, the piecemeal communes of the 60's, and orphanages and boarding houses all shift, align, and come together at this vertex of bayou Lafourche. Looking carefully, you can find the echoes of these places, in dim corners, and draw along the banisters the lines where something else begins.
Just as often, and with the same subtlety, the bayou itself shifts from the swampland of Louisiana to the garden of Eden, and into a jungle housing all the torments of Vietnam. At night, the lights slip careful into hues unnatural to set the house delicately on the violet moon, or into the black void of space. From the tree house, there is a view of a vast wasteland. All you have to do is wait, and watch carefully.
These descriptions are predicated on a simple concept. There is a House, inside which children might be able to play pretend, or hide-and-seek. This House sits on the land called the Backyard, where children learn the conduct of war, and trial, and fair play. That is the simplest and most pure definition of the differences of our natures, the occupants of Gray House. Some of us play in the House, and some of us play in the Yard.
When all this began, there was something seeping from the walls of the house, into our rooms. It was a smell which made Matthew and John twitch slightly as they woke from sleep - a sharp and anxious exit characteristic of late mornings when you wake up already knowing you've missed your first bell. In turn, Drama's shoulders tensed with their institutional reactions, donning his crested jacket more and more, and Adam replied in a language of three-piece suits and late night jazz.
When Adam changed, into this facet already known to me named Alistair, I could sense the changes in the courtyard which became scholastic; the centerpiece of some dormitory I was certainly not allowed in. The boy's rooms became collegiate, monastic, and utilitarian. Brad rushed from one room to the next, balancing a stack of books in one hand and pushing his black-framed reading glasses up with the other. I always wondered why they all wore such outdated glasses, but it's because they were always living here, on some level, in some convergence of patterns of this kaleidoscope.
The courtyard still looks like the mall. I can see that it does, but the context changes, and the boarding school they attend holds the sway of the afternoon. The rock band posters inside Nick's room take on a nostalgic air, and Clyde's boots thud with the authority of a riding boot. Cigarettes vanish from ashtrays, and begin to show themselves fervently doused in the sink, or the bowls of toilets. Their eyes begin to hold the punchline of some inside joke, the boys.
And as fast as it turns into a prep-school, boarded in the summer months for the kids whose parents could not or would not fly them home, the clock-face of Gray House also becomes the backstage of that same idea. Closets turn to back stairwells, boiler rooms, and storage rooms for classroom equipment. The smell everywhere is one of high-stacked reams of paper and laundry which never quite gets clean.
"Ayup!" Nick pounds on closed doors in the early morning. "Shower's open!"
Before Jack came home, we did have a long locker room, inside which I first encountered Drama himself, his sport coat buttoned neatly against the steam. There was a decadence to him I could feel radiating off the dingy tiles: he was the last thing we'd all been waiting for. A culmination of every missing thing, perfectly arranged into this semblance of a man. The boy who both drove a Honda and wore an ascot.
"Welll... what have we here?" he asks me, and I notice he's been watching me from the doorway of Joshua's room, his arms crossed over his chest and a smirk on his face.
"Nothing," I brush him off, making my way from this overlap of dorm rooms to my room, a haven made of the sewing rooms of spinsters.
I could do this forever, you know. I could leapfrog and lilypad through the shifting glass beads to things unrelated, to other worlds where there are other colors with other names. I could disappear into my room and become the girl or boy I am inside it. I could don my half-shirt from a Des Moines radio station contest and shave my head and tell you everything I know about election fraud. We could go anywhere, and that's the treacherous thing about living here. We could become anyone, at any time, for any reason, and the forms we do hold on a daily basis are just suggestions which imply a comfort zone - a fond set of memories, held together with the taut twine of a legacy.
Christmas lurks under the floorboards, ghost cars screech tires down the dirt driveway, British-ruled India haunts the foyer. Keep your mind right, maintain focus, and don't get lost unless you want to. Because while this took place in a prep-school, it didn't begin there. I took a wrong turn, I think, going down the back stairs to sneak out to the city descending into night. I could've ended up anywhere, but I ended up here. It's this constant maelstrom I want most for you to understand, and the point at which I continually give up the fight to do so. Because how do I walk from one end of creation to the other?
But it doesn't matter. I'm not going to the end of creation, just to the moon and back, on a roll of celluloid, held in the arms of a dead boy.